Irregular Update

September 12th, 2013 1 comment

Wow. It’s been like… 8 months. Sorry guys.

Well, as you can tell, I’ve been very busy. Real life has gotten in the way of my fake one, even though I had a spectacular time at PAX, and got to see the Season 3 finals. I really haven’t kept the blog up to date with what’s going on, but it’s been a very exciting ride.

We’re getting ready for the start of the World Championships soon, and eSports promises to do what other games can’t: make this a legitimate world competition. Though the Koreans are heavy favorites, Cloud9′s meteoric rise to the top of the North American circuit has given U.S. players something to cheer for.

I’ll try to cover Worlds, but what got me blogging again was something I just saw posted from League of Legends:

Riot wasn’t finished with the Honor Initiative, and their commitment to combat the toxic nature of their game. In this brilliantly directed clip, eSportscaster Rivington the 3rd, a Riot employee, provides the voice over to the data that Riot’s been collecting for the past year or so.

I just thought I’d toss this out, as it applies to more than just League of Legends; generally, people aren’t bad. At least, not as bad as you think. They get frustrated, they get angry, the make stupid decisions, and we think that defines them. But please, don’t just automatically assume everyone else hates you, or is awful. There will certainly be times when they are just trolling you, or when nothing works out, but let’s try to keep this from becoming the default, expected behavior of the rest of humanity. We’re all just trying to get by in this crazy world.

Share Button
Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

The Future is Now

January 31st, 2013 1 comment

Season 3 in League of Legends is fast approaching. In fact, as of 20 minutes ago, ranked queues were shut down in preparation for the patch. The EU server qualifiers were last weekend. Teams are done.

We’re here.

You know, I find the interesting thing, the really compelling thing about League of Legends at the moment is the way they’re trying to bridge the divide between conventional and electronic sports. They’ve got a regular season schedule planned out, the way you would a hockey season. Each server bracket (NA and EU, who we might think of as conferences) has 8 teams playing against each other in single matches every Thursday and Friday for the North American server, and Saturday and Sunday for the Europeans. Teams are required to have subs, because they’re going to be playing for ten weeks straight. There’s going to be a midseason break, where each division’s lowest teams get pitted against rising non-professional teams from the ranked bracket, who you can be sure will be hungry for their spots. There will be salaries involved.

If you think that eSports is just a fad, we’re talking about millions of dollars in prize money, and more than that in advertising. These games are going to be streamed, HD, for free. There’ll be video on demand, we’re talking about the beginnings of an annual thing. MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL will have at least one more acronym to add to the list by the time season 3 is over, mark my words.

So get used to the future, gamers.

We’re here.

Share Button

Seven Year Itch

January 29th, 2013 1 comment

So, I have been referring to World of Warcraft to my friends lately, comparing it to an old boot. It’s comfortable, and you know exactly what you’re going to get when you set out to play it. It’s very nice having that kind of safety net of a game. Of course, in the heyday of my Blizzardcrush, I’d come home and play nothing but WoW. so would a lot of my friends, and we all took the precaution of having an authenticator on our games.

Time passed, and tastes changed. We moved from WoW to Diablo to Starcraft and then to other games. We lost our crushes. Summer was over, and in the winter time, we all got new phones for Christmas, and lost our authenticators. Well, I did, anyway.

I want to report that the process was relatively harmless, even without having my CDs like I did the last time this happened, which was in Korea. In what amounts to the same circumstance of changing mobile devices, I switched phones when I got to my new home in Daegu. I had to call Blizzard, give them my CD’s serial number to remove my old phone, and then add my new phone from Korea, and it was well worth it. Now home, I find myself having to do the same thing, but I don’t have the CD serial numbers to get me back in. Blizzard offers an additional option to send them a government issued ID.

I did.

I don’t know if this will somehow come to bite me in the ass, but they offer other options for security, such as SMS, that I may look into.

But now, I have to go back to Starcraft II. I’m about to scratch that itch I get so often, and go slip on some old boots.

Share Button

Free For All

January 29th, 2013 1 comment

The alternate title of this post is “A Few More Word On Why You Should Be Watching eSports”, because there’s a great video out from PCGamer. T.J. Hafer takes five minutes, and gives us some very compelling commentary.

Go watch it. I’ll still be here.

Ready?

I think it’s a great piece, but I also think that I can give you an even better reason for watching eSports, and the reason is accessibility. If you have an interest in the game, you can go be part of a community with not only people like you, but the competitors themselves, just as soon as you want. You can be part of a group within five minutes of learning about the sport.

The necessity of online gaming is there in its name: online gaming. It must be played on the internet somehow, and the truth of the matter is that the medium on which we play is also the medium on which the whole world communicates. I find this level of possible involvement and global influence in the sport itself fascinating. We can talk to the stars of the show on Reddit, or a blog. We can be part of the community of fans by going to the forums and email lists. We can spectate matches on justin.tv and twitch.tv. Because the sport has to be watched online, where anyone can access it, we create a necessarily large potential fan base. As the internet continues its global spread into our pockets, and the ability to get information spans from the mountain steppes of rural China to the slums of the favelas in Brazil, eSports has a path to be seen by everyone in the world.

The other side to accessibility comes from being on the field, and not just watching from the stands. Combine the following facts: Not only does the action take place behind the mask of a keyboard, but the competitors have such names as Locodoco, Saintvicious, and ZionSpartan. That anonymity creates a Mary Jane effect, where anyone could be playing. All of the time that the players put into this is something that everyone can do. Universal accessibility means that we could aspire to be as good as the pros someday. The characters we see being controlled on the screen could just as easily obey our own commands.

These two facets, universal visibility and unlimited participation, make eSports accessible to anyone and everyone. From a 30 year old woman who has just a passing interest in video games to people who have been playing them since they were 3, any gamer is welcome to come and watch.

And you should.

Share Button

You Had To Be There

January 22nd, 2013 3 comments

Sometimes, I worry about the ability or lack thereof of eSports to have a kind of viral impact. I can’t expound on my enthusiasm of xPeke’s spectacular play from IEM Katowice to someone who just doesn’t give a good god damn. I had this very sensation last night, as I was having dinner with some dear friends of mine. The couple are as geeky as you like, reveling in the obscure and nerdy. They’re some of my greatest friends in the world, and if anyone can possibly appreciate my rants about how fantastic that Kassadin was (noreallygolook), it’s this duo. But the wife seemed disinterested. I don’t fault her for it in any sort of way (I love you Roo!) but this is emblematic of my concern about eSports’ ability to captivate strangers to the sport. It seems a far cry to be excited about a series of button clicks in rapid succession.

But I am excited, and so was the other half of my lovely company. When I was describing Kassadin’s swift dodges, managing to duck and weave between axes, using his slows as effectively as a prize fighter, my good friend Nathan was as happy as I was at the plays.

My only solution to the worry of eSports’ transmitability is to stay enthused. To stay interested. I want to make this a thing, and I want you to come with me.

Share Button
Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , , ,

Long Live the Meta

January 20th, 2013 2 comments

If you’re still skeptical of eSports as a thing, check out the amazing technical skill of xPeke from Fnatic at the second day of IEM Katowice.

Having the presence of mind to think of a strategy and execute it under stress is a remarkable skill for any competitor, and you should rightfully be impressed.

Season 3 is heralding some pretty amazing plays already, and it’s going to be week after week of this sort of thing. Look for unorthodox strategies, radical ideas, and a whole lot of skill. The meta is dead.

Share Button

Crosshairs

January 18th, 2013 No comments

Every once in a while, a tragedy happens.

It is tragic, to see lives snuffed out. It is tragic to see people lose hope, go past that line, and do horrible, unspeakable things. It scares us all. It concerns us all. We should never forget that there are awful things in this world, and we should do what we can to combat the evils of violence and the tragedies that scar us. Everyone, it can be agreed, wants this sort of thing to stop.

The question then becomes how.

Do we need cops in schools? Do we need fewer guns? Do we need psychological evaluations? Do we need to crack down on violent video games?

Of course violent video games are the answer.

This is an entirely predictable and altogether terrible way of dealing with the massacre at Sandy Hook. It’s predictable because this is what the media, anti-video game pundits, and legislators have done, time after time after time. Literally. The 109th, 110th, and the 113th Congresses have proposed the same bill. We know that as soon as the guns come out, and the blood is spilled, and the tears are shed, that it will take about a month for everyone calm down, and point their fingers at the consoles. Jack Thompson and Senator Leland Yee have been the subject of some of my posts in the past, but they’re not the only ones going on this crusade against video games.

Which brings us to the terrible part of their crusade: It’s ultimately useless. Not only has it failed a constitutionality test every time the bill’s been brought up, but it’s not the source of the problem. Pesky First Amendment rights aside, prohibiting the sale or rental of video games to minors isn’t going to teach children a damn thing, and I’m tired of pretending like it will. What it will do is frustrate me, and gamers like me, who don’t really need to be told what to watch, or what to play, or what to think. It is unnecessary and wasteful legislation, particularly in light of the tragedy. Could you lawmakers kindly focus your efforts on either gun control or mental health initiatives, instead of trying to penalize and judge a subset of people who are just as moved by this tragedy as you are?

In the end, I am happy that President Obama is calling for more research into the link between video games, violent imagery, and violence in our society, but I ultimately think that the research will be ignored. People are eager to find a scapegoat, and no amount of guarantees of free speech or already existing data are going to convince people that violent video games are not the culprit. No force on the planet can convince people that proper parenting means being a God damned parent, and being with your children, instead of just letting them babysit themselves in front of a screen. This kind of tunnel vision is already at work: Lanza had an elaborate set up for Call of Duty and Starcraft, and loved electronics. That must make him a killer.

Him, me, and about 80% of my generation.

Share Button

League of Legends Season 3 Qualifiers

January 12th, 2013 No comments

If you haven’t heard yet, and if you’re interested in the future of eSports, check out League of Legends qualifiers this weekend. More opinions to come.

Share Button
Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Seats at the Table

January 1st, 2013 No comments

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking about player buy-in. That developers should have to pay attention to this resource should be a given at this point, but what do players have to do with their investment? How should they treat it, and what does it afford them as players?

First off, I don’t think players should be stingy with their investment. It’s not something that should be hoarded or treasured without ever expending. The cool thing about investment is that nothing sells like it. When all your friends convince you you should play in and be enthusiastic about a game, you tend to listen. That doesn’t mean that you should give 110% to everything. That’s going to just drain you until you don’t care about anything, much less a game. To that end, I suggest that you at least give yourself a chance to be hooked by a game. Read its synopsis. Read a blog article about it. Listen to your friend extol its virtues. Merely hearing about it isn’t going to hurt, and it may in fact get you involved in something you’ll enjoy. But be prepared to give constructive feedback, and let the developer have a chance to better his game with it. If your friend comes running up to you and tells you that he has an amazing idea for an Exalted game, give him the chance to pitch it. When he tells you it’s an Abyssal exalted game, and you’re all playing Heroic Mortals, then you may want to tell him why it’s not your cup of tea.

Similarly, do the developer and yourself a favor: be honest about your buy-in. If you have only a little to give because of other commitments, say that at the start of any game you’re going to be playing. “You know guys, this sounds really awesome, but I’ve only got a weekend a month to devote to it. Could we make a character that doesn’t need me to be there all the time?” People (and by this, I mean the game’s storyteller or developer and the other player) will listen. Their ability to listen gets clogged by signal-to-noise ratios though, so make sure the message is heard.

With so many people involved in the creative process, telling people how you feel about investing in a game is tricky. In a tabletop game, lots of these points would be easy to consider. It’s just six people, so there’s not a lot of other opinions to take into account. If you’re a potential player in a game that meets at your friend’s Bob house every Wednesday night and you know everyone there, your communication will be relatively clear. Alternatively, when you’re part of the Mind’s Eye Society or helping to develop inXile’s next RPG, there are going to be a lot of people talking, all at once, and not all of them will want to hear you. Not all of them will be paying attention. This is not always a reason to give up though. If you are enthused about a game, if you’re prepared to invest in it, you should keep talking, and encourage people to do the same. Work out what can be done with something you’re prepared to spend time and energy on and make it the game you want to play. You have a reasonable expectation to be entertained by a game, provided that you come in good faith to the table, just like everyone else.

If, at the end, you don’t feel like you’ve been listened to, or the game isn’t going to be what you want, remember that it is just a game. This shouldn’t devalue it, or your experiences with games, but please be mindful that if the investment you’re putting into it isn’t giving you back what you want, you have every right to walk away from it, and find something else that suits you. It’s up to everyone at the table to play with each other, and create an environment to play in.

This seems like a nice place to start the discussion on investment. How do you become invested in a game? How do you encourage investment? Take a look at the new mechanics for Requiem’s Majesty Discipline and think about how the very fabric of the power requires and promotes investment on both players. The Boon system, teased about in that article, suggests that if you play along as a victim of the power, you get rewarded. Buy-in is created on the part of the user of the power, the victim of the power, and the Storyteller. Tell us your thoughts about buy-in in the comments below.

Share Button

This is a test for the Nexus 7 WP client.

December 27th, 2012 No comments

Happy holidays everyone!

Share Button
Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,